Matthew of Westminster's Flowers of History


The Flores Historiarum (Flowers of History) is a Latin chronicle dealing with English history from the creation to 1306. It was compiled by various persons and quickly acquired contemporary popularity, for it was continued by many hands in many manuscript traditions.

The author of the Chronicle "Flowers of History" was, at one time, said to be a Benedictine Monk, who flourished in the early part of the fourteenth century, though some place him near the end of it.

However, the supposed author, Matthew of Westminster, is now thought never to have existed. The error was first discovered in 1826 by Francis Turner Palgrave, who said that Matthew was "a phantom who never existed," and later the truth of this statement was proved by Henry Richards Luard. The name appears to have been taken from that of Matthew Paris, from whose "Chronica majora" the earlier part of the work was mainly copied, and from Westminster Abbey, where the work was partially written.

The Flowers of History begins with the creation of the world, and continues to the end of the reign of Edward the First. The early portion of the work consists of an abridgment of the Bible, and a brief sketch of Rome, making little mention of Greece, except where its history is connected with that of the Jews or Romans.

It's value lies in the later portion covering contemporary 12-14thC events, in that the authors paid great attention to order and chronology. In the reigns of English kings after the Conquest, the work is exceedingly minute and careful. The account of the troubles of the reigns of John, and Henry the Third, bear internal marks of accuracy and fidelity; and the wars of Edward are described vividly.

The work is organised very much upon the plan of that of Matthew Paris, and both are largely indebted to Roger of Wendover, as far as his history extends, which was to A.D. 1238.

It was translated into English by C.D. Yonge (London, 1853) in two volumes.

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